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Friends Newsletter No. 63

January 2015

Friends are the recognised guardians of Malvern's water heritage (Malvern Gazette 1 March 2013 p.14). We are an independent voluntary group who relentlessly promote research, conservation and celebration of the Springs, Spouts, Fountains and Holy Wells of the Malvern Hills and of Great Malvern as a Spa Town.
Hay Slad Spout in trouble?
Numerous Friends have contacted us over the late summer and autumn period regarding the lack of water flowing from Hay Slad Spout since June. We rather took the view that the hot summer had led to a drop in the water table and that the spring was reduced to a trickle. We therefore postponed our field trip to the site to early November, knowing that the water table traditionally rises mid-October as the weather changes and becomes wetter. At Hay Slad, David Armitage's famous bifurcating spout dispenses the spring water into a basin, enabling passers-by to fill their containers easily. Filling up is a tradition that has gone on for decades and attracts people from as far away as London on a day trip.
Under the 1896 Malvern Link Water Act the Council was obliged to provide compensation water to Colwall. As a result of this and subsequent Acts, today the flow at the spout is compensation water diverted from the salt glazed gully via a wheel valve, released from the spring at a rate of at least 2 gallons per minute under the provisions of the Malvern Water Act 1905 26(1). The water released at the spout comes solely from the Hayslad spring which is now managed by Severn Trent Water. Mathon Parish Council monitors the quantity of compensation water.
When we inspected the bifurcating spout in late November the flow was only 6 pints a minute which is less than half the 2 gallons a minute expected. It may be that a blockage has occurred in the pipework. In the first instance Mathon Parish Council needed to be alerted. In the meantime Cora is exploring the problem with Severn Trent Water and we hope to be able to announce good news soon.
The end of a battle
In a scene that resembles the First World War battlefield of the Somme, Malvern sees the final end to the historic Schweppes Malvern Water Bottling Works at Colwall. The plant closed in 2010 after an application to extend their water supply was withdrawn following local publicity criticising their endeavours. This heralded the end of 160 years of bottling a product that was revered by all including the Queen. Following extended debate the site was eventually sold to developers and a new village of mixed homes, a shop and care home for the elderly was planned. Inevitably this in turn created much local discussion and eventually planning approval was gained. By November 2014 the demolition contactors were on site and razed almost everything to the ground. The end of an era!
Not quite all was demolished. Standing proud and alone amidst the mud and bricks of the cleared site is the Tank House. The Tank House is a downsized replica of the Holy Well building where Schweppes first bottled Malvern Water from 1851. When it was realised that there was danger of redeveloping the site, Friends of Malvern Springs and Wells, working in conjunction with Coca-Cola, set about trying to ensure that this unique, iconic building was given some statuary protection. Cora in particular put detailed proposals to English Heritage and after much research and discussion was told that Statutory Listing was not an option. Determined not to be thwarted Cora approached English Heritage again with further submissions and it was a day of great celebration when the letter arrived confirming Listing Grade II. Now we are able to appreciate Cora's efforts and the support given by Coca-Cola.

In the pictures:
A view previously masked by industrial buildings - the Tank House stands alone amidst the decimated battlefield, surviving to see the start of a new era for Colwall while Bruce nostalgically inspects the demolition warning notice.

Recently Shaw's Spade turned up in the USA, now it's his walking stick!
In the last newsletter we recorded how George Bernard Shaw's spade that he used to plant the 1936 Mulberry Tree in Priory Park turned up in the United States. Now his walking stick has come to light in a stately home in Berkshire. Cliveden is an Italianate mansion and estate set on the banks of the River Thames, its grounds slope down to the river. There have been three houses on this site: the first, built in 1666, burned down in 1795 and the second house (1824) was also destroyed by fire, in 1849. The present Grade 1 listed house was built in 1851 by the architect Charles Barry for the 2nd Duke of Sutherland. The site has been home to an earl, three countesses, two dukes, a Prince of Wales and the Viscounts Astor. As home of Nancy Astor, the house was the meeting place of the Cliveden set of the 1920s and 1930s, a group of political intellectuals. Shaw was a friend of Nancy and when a Friend visited the house recently was amazed to find Shaw's walking stick is displayed in a glass case in the foyer. Near the stick is a sculpture of this 20th century writer. The main Cliveden building is now a hotel with a spa and the grounds are run by the National Trust.
Whilst the walking stick is of limited interest to us with our plans for the Mulberry Tree II planting and unveiling in 2016, it makes you wonder what else Shaw left lying about that has now become a treasured memento.
Malvern Springs Worldwide Fame

Our book Celebrated Springs of the Malvern Hills sells steadily on-line through our web site and as a result reaches all quarters of the globe. Paula from Holland wrote recently: Just to let you know that I enjoy your book very much! It is so interesting to read about the history of the springs and wells and get some insight into everything "watery" in and around Malvern. Definitely a place to visit again in (hopefully) the near future...We look forward to her next visit.
Do you get this Newsletter emailed?
Many hundreds of people get this Newsletter emailed for free. Unfortunately some email addresses reject the mailing because a stop has been put on high circulation emails. If we get an automatic notification we send out a separate mailing to the addresses concerned. We are not always able to spot this and so if you have put a stop on high circulation emails you may prefer to receive a subscription hard copy. See the end of this Newsletter for details.
Windlass Well Pump wants a watery welcome - no it's not a wind up!
Some years ago we recovered a windlass well pump in Devon thinking it might be ideal for mounting over a shallow well or spring in The Malverns. Unfortunately its provenance was lost other that it once was the village pump for a hamlet somewhere in the West Country. One option we considered was that it would be perfect as a feature within the Gothic Well along the Wells Road, where the underground grotto would have provided an ideal setting.
Mounted over the small internal well, it could then be seen through the windows and door that faced on to the Wells Road. Unfortunately David Prentice (deceased) the former owner of the Gothic Well walled up the door and windows before we were able to make this suggestion. In spite of this we have restored the mechanism and added a contemporary brass pump cylinder. All we now need is a good location. If you have any suggestions do let us know. It needs to be under cover and not accessible to children who may catch their fingers in the mechanism.
Another grotto elsewhere may also be an option. We therefore propose featuring the pump on our www.Grotto.directory web site if it does not go to The Malverns.
The Problems of Spring Contamination - more
Chances Pitch spout was once a popular watering spot for cyclists and walkers over the Malvern Hills. Some years ago the roadside source was capped over because of contamination. This was likely from the field above where animals were being kept. We now learn that an application has been put to Colwall Parish Council's planning and development committee to build four broiler units for chicken rearing in the vicinity of Chances Pitch and the Wellington Inn. These will be about the size of two football pitches. It is feared that the chicken manure will contaminate spring water supplies in a locality where some households rely on these for their domestic supply. In addition any contamination of ground water will substantially affect the use of the springs for recreational purposes including tourism.
A knowledgeable Friend has commented to us following articles in our previous newsletters regarding contamination. "As far as I am aware there is no instant test for pathogens, I too was interested in the Speedybreeder and sent them an e-mail so far no reply. If I get one I will let you know, Please be careful as well because there could be other pathogens present in your source water other than e.coli ( e.g. clostridium spp., pseudomonas. streptococci etc.). I currently use a procedure called COLILERT. It is a simple very accurate test but it takes 18-24 hours to provide a result. It will detect all pathogens, and then provide specific information on e.coli. Let me know if I can be of further help.
On another note I have had this bottle from the Malvern Mineral Water Company for years, any idea of the date?" (see left)
Contamination - Another suggestion
A Friend has sent us a Victorian booklet that may give hope to those who are worried about water quality. The picture left is captioned in the booklet:
"The water is so deliciously pure and palatable, that I have decided to give up all other beverages."
The reason is that the gentleman concerned has secured from London a Judson water filter. These domestic filters came in a number of sizes and styles including stoneware and chinaware. Prices ranged from 25/- to 47/6. With twenty shillings to the pound, that's a bargain if the prices were to prevail today.
Could this be the answer to those worries about contamination? Secure your supply of Malvern Water from a spring or well and run it through a filter? We would welcome comment from anyone with technical knowledge of modern day filtration and the practicalities of this suggestion. We can then pass this on to readers.
If you have any comments do email us.  

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Best wishes, Cora & Bruce
Bruce Osborne, Tower House, Tadworth, Surrey. KT20 5QY
Tel. 01737 213169   email
Cora Weaver, 4 Hall Green, Malvern, Worcs. WR14 3QX            
Tel. 01684 561215   email

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